Another Time Another Life
It has been quite some time that I have not written here. Unlike other times, this time my absence here was quite intentional. Even though I have been busy with studies and my research projects that help me to financially survive, I still did have the time to write. I just did not want to write publicly for some time. I needed time to talk and write to myself. I know maybe that is what lunatics do. But, lunatics also know the taste of life more than all of us so-called “sane” people!
The end of last summer I decided to take on a unique opportunity that accidently came my way through an inspiring and kind professor and to move to the Netherlands for one year to pursue a degree in MBA at a rather remote business university; Nyenrode Business University. The first time I was ever introduced to this university was when I was working on a project for the World Bank through which I, along with a team, organized a roundtable here at this university. I remember that every first time when I went through the gate of this university that looks more like a park than a university, and saw an old cute castle on my way to the main building. I felt I was in a place far away from everything that was bringing me down in the US. And somehow I felt I will come back to this place. And I did!
Like all dreams that when come true lose some of their original power, this school, too, became real and less dream-like when I began this MBA program here last September. I did not like the classes, did not understand anything of courses like Accounting and Finance. I began to miss my life at Harvard and my dear life in the US. Also, being in Europe somehow made me even more nostalgic for Iran. Since growing up in Iran in a modern secular family, you are exposed to the European life style and cultures more than anything. I began to really feel closer to home here in the Netherlands. Things here seemed closer to the life of my parents in Iran and the life that they always wanted us to have. I know this sounds strange for a lot of you, because you might be thinking it is rather irrelevant for somebody to make a connection between their life in Iran and the Netherlands. But, well, all I could tell you is that in some peculiar way there are some cultural connections between the social and cultural class that I come from in Iran and this place!
After a few months, I began to rediscover myself here in the Netherlands and at Nyenrode. I made a few exceptionally amazing friends and I remembered my purpose of being here: It was not to really become a businesswoman all of a sudden. It was more to escape from my North American life for a while, to reflect on the past ten years of immigration that were rather hectic, unexpected and emotionally filled with ups and downs. And, of course, I was excited to be exposed to something absolutely new which was the world of business.
Once I was able to really think through my original purpose of flying to Nyenrode like a bird escaping from the cold of the East Coast of the US, I felt more at peace with myself and my life here. I began to really take joy in every moment of it as I realize this might have been the first time in my life I decided to have one year only to myself! I do not know how I gathered the courage to take off like this. But, I did! And, despite the emotional merry-go-round on which I sometimes find myself here, it is a truly joyous feeling to look around you and realize that things have happened this way because you wanted them to happen this way. This experience has, in many ways, empowered me and made me realize the beauty of making my own decisions rather than always cautiously and conservatively doing what everybody thinks I should I be doing or always trying to find the logic in my next steps. Sometimes, it is nice to let logic adapt itself and rigid rules to your needs and wishes!
Anyways, to make the long story short, here I am still at Nyenrode living next to a castle filled with pretty plants and animals in the middle of nowhere in the Netherlands. To my disbelief, it has already been six months that I have been here and I will be here for another six months before moving on to the full-time working life. Even though this place has lost its dream effects, it has turned into one of the most real experiences of my life. It is the time that, for once, Azadeh is being herself every hour of everyday.
I still have so many fears of letting go of the past, of my beautiful memories of Iran, my wounds of the very bitter destiny of my father and mother imposed on them by the Islamic Republic of Iran, my adventurous memories of the US. But, I believe I will somehow manage to make something out of those rich past experiences in the near future. Being away for some time has helped me see things from a different perspective. And this altered perspective—whatever it may be—has made me feel more alive and powerful. It has awakened the Azadeh in me that I had put to sleep during the tough years of exile in the US in order to feel numb and to survive. But, now, I feel ready to live beyond just the principle of survival. Now, I am ready to feel life and not just to go through it like a train that is rushing to be on time at the next stop. Now, I feel I am a scatterbrained and careless person who is not in a rush to get anywhere very fast and who could easily get distracted by the people and the little ladybugs on her way to wherever it may be; the Azadeh that I used to be…the old Azadeh that used to be passionate about the journeys brought to her by life and not so focused on the destination.
Now, I feel I want to sometimes write here again and to share arbitrary pieces of my life as it unfolds!